Alumni Affairs

Regent's 5K Run/Walk

Saturday, October 14, 2017 @ 10:00 am 9:00 am registration and start line located in parking lot A, Rockford University campus. This run is a part of Rockford University's Homecoming @ Reunion events and is open to the public to participate. This run is NOT a chipped or sanctioned race.
  • (Registration information at (10:00am)
    Price: $25.00 Quantity:
  • $0.00

2017 Summer Issue

06/07/2017 10:58 am



Greetings from President Fulcomer

As I reflect back on the last academic year, the first of my presidency, several words come to mind—words that you will see woven throughout this issue of the Catalyst. Words such as longevity, service, opportunity, and success. I trust that you will be impressed, as I am, by the individuals, events, and programs that are highlighted in the following pages.

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Retiree Profile – David Sytsma, Ph.D.

Harry Truman is credited with saying, “There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know.” For the last 32 years, Dr. David Sytsma made sure that his students continued to expand their knowledge based on thorough studies of the past.

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Andie Bent: Studying Abroad ‘Empowering’

Andie Bent had not experienced much outside her “vinyl-sided neighborhood” in small-town Roscoe, Ill., when she enrolled at Rockford University. Now a senior, she has visited more than 20 European cities in the past year, spending her last two semesters abroad at the...

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Retiree Profile – Don Martin, Ph.D.

Don Martin cannot tell you why he was first swept away by ancient Latin and Greek, the classics and antiquity—only that “there was some bug in me all along that got me going in this direction.”

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Commencement ’17

Rockford University awarded undergraduate and graduate degrees to more than 350 students from 18 states and six countries at its 163rd Commencement on Saturday, May 13, at the Coronado Performing Arts Center in downtown Rockford. Barbara Pierce Bush, CEO of Global...

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Day of Giving tops $50,000 to support student scholarship

On Wednesday, April 26, Rockford University held its third annual Day of Giving. Through social media and email outreach, alumni and community members again came together in a unique way with tremendous impact. This year’s Day of Giving supported Rockford University’s...

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Catalyst is published by the Communications & Alumni offices within the Institutional
Advancement division.

Letters to the editor, feedback and feature suggestions are welcome. Deadline for correspondence to be considered for the next issue of Catalyst is March 15, 2017.

Contact information: Office of Communications, 815.394.5041 or

Editor: Rita Elliott
Designer: Paul Hecker

Share your GOOD NEWS with us!
Please send updates to
Pictures also welcome!





Laura Monahan
Andrea Anderson
Deborah Breiter
Kimberly McCullough
Elaine Sharpe

Led by Assistant Professor and Nursing Department Chair Dr. Laura Monahan, nursing students participated in the Interprofessional Education (IPE) Day at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford on January 18. The yearly event involves team building, health care scenario analysis and simulation. The event hosted approximately 200 students composed of 60 UIC Medical students, 60 UIC Pharmacy students, 10 UIC Nurse Practitioner students, 37 RU Nursing students, and 30 OSF Saint Anthony Nursing students. Additionally, six Performing Arts students took part in the Hospital Discharge simulation. There were 20 Group Facilitators leading groups of 10 students each, composed of Medical, Pharmacy and Nursing students. The five Group Facilitators from RU were: Professor Andrea Anderson, Dr. Deb Breiter, Professor Kim McCullough, Dr. Laura Monahan, and Professor Elaine Sharpe. Group Facilitators were at training sessions on January 11 or 12, and the IPE Day event occurred on January 18.

(The RU team of students and faculty who participated in the IPE Day held at University of Illinois Chicago Rockford.)

Rockford University and the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford are participating in a Bioterrorism Preparedness Project in conjunction with the Winnebago County Health Department, the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office, the Winnebago County Coroner’s Office, and the Rockford Police and Fire departments. This experience will include the RU Nursing, Psychology and Performing Arts departments and the UIC Medical and Pharmacy schools. The planners from RU consist of Nursing Department Chair Dr. Laura Monahan and Associate Professor of Psychology Elaine Sharpe. 




Tara Wood, Ph.D.


Tara Wood

Assistant Professor of English and Writing Program Administrator Tara Wood, Ph.D., was awarded the Community Based Learning (CBL) Innovation Grant for Spring 2017 as part of Rockford University’s commitment to providing students the opportunity to apply skills learned in the classroom to address the needs of the Rockford Community. Dr. Wood incorporated CBL into her RHET 102 Intermediate Rhetoric course by partnering students with The Literacy Council in Rockford, a nonprofit organization that aims to improve the literacy levels and educational/employment opportunities for the Rockford region. Students worked on a project aimed at promoting the council’s fundraising efforts for the 14th annual Rockford Literacy Races marathon held in early May. The project consisted of researching literacy in the Rockford region and drafting research based profiles of adult learners associated with The Literacy Council that were used for promoting the sponsorship of runners for the marathon. Dr. Tara Wood was the lead author on an article published in the May 25 edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education. Dr. Wood’s piece, “Why We Dread Disability Myths” is a critical response to an article published in April by Gail Hornstein titled “Why I Dread the Accommodations Talk.” Dr. Wood critiques Hornstein for perpetuating dangerous and ableism myths about disability and disabled students. Dr. Wood donated the publication stipend for the article to the Society for Disability Studies.




Sean Beckmann, Ph.D.


In an article published May 30 titled “Ticked off: Lyme disease to be an issue this season,” Assistant Professor of Biology Sean Beckmann, Ph.D., shares with the Rockford Register Star | that he expects an increase in the local tick population this season after winter’s brevity and warmth. Pictured above, Dr. Beckmann and Taggart Venegas, biology major, trap a ground squirrel at the Distillery Road conservation Area in Belvidere, Ill., Dr. Beckmann and students collected rodent specimens to test for Lyme disease. Photo courtesy of the Rockford Register Star and photographer Arturo Fernandez.



Kearstin Findley


Kearstin Findley, a senior biology major concentrating in evolution and ecology, was selected for The Ohio State University’s Stone Laboratory’s 2017 Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Scholarship Program. Eight outstanding undergraduate students, four Ohio State students and four students from other Midwestern colleges were selected. The five week program is a competitive, comprehensive research internship that gives students the chance to conduct scientific research in the field alongside top scientists throughout a month, at Stone Laboratory, located on OSU’s island campus on Lake Erie. Students receive a full scholarship to Stone Lab, including lab fee, room and meals and in-state tuition for the 2 credit research experience and 4-credit, five-week course. The program runs concurrently with Stone Lab’s five-week summer term. Students spend their non-class days focused on research, working closely with their supervisors to design an experiment, collect samples and analyze data. At the end of the program, they give a final present ation to their peers and the public.



Dr. Troy Skwor


Dr. Troy Skwor, associate professor of Biology, assisted with expert commentary for two extensive media stories airing in May. WREX, Ch. 13 (NBC), aired “Digging Deeper: Drinking water contamination and the government study that was never released,”an investigative report by Evening Anchor Kristin Crowley about a superfund site located in Rockford and its resulting groundwater contamination concerns. Based on Dr. Skwor’s expertise and research in the field, he also provided comment for the WIFR, Ch. 23 (CBS), story “Superbug Syndrome and the threat of antibiotic resistance.”




Steven Hicks, Ph.D.


Stephen Hicks

Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Center for Ethics and Entrepreneurship Steven Hicks, Ph.D., contributed opinion to the Toronto feature, “Debate: Who should get to speak on campus,” which published online May 1, 2017.




Ron Lee, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor and Political Science Department Chair Ron Lee, Ph.D., led three small-group breakout sessions on the topic of the politics of universalism versus the politics of multiculturalism at the “Welcoming Diversity: Building Bridges of Understanding” community collaborative program, sponsored by the Unity in Diversity and the Unity, Pride and Culture committee of Transform Rockford and held on April 23 at the Midway Village and Museum in Rockford.



Mirela Papandreou

Mirela Papandreou’s article “How to Develop the Interdisciplinary Literacy of English Language Learners” was published in the Illinois Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages – Bilingual Education newsletter in April. Mirela is an instructor in the University’s English as a Second Language (ESL) program.



Roxana Idu, Ph.D.


Roxana Idu

Roxana Idu, Ph.D., assistant professor of Economics, Puri School of Business, attended the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education’s (IACBE) annual conference and assembly meeting held in San Francisco, Calif., on April 18- 21. Dr. Idu represented Rockford University, which was recognized as a 20-year charter member of the organization.



Gary Lubbert


Late Associate Professor of Economics, Business and Accounting Gary Lubbert was nominated for the IACBE’s Education Leader of the Year Award. Prof. Lubbert was selected for this prestigious recognition and honored posthumously at Rockford University’s commencement ceremony held on May 13. Prof. Lubbert also was recognized with Emeritus status in honor of his dedicated and meritorious service to Rockford University. Members of Prof. Lubbert’s family were in attendance to accept the awards on his behalf.





Dr. Catherine Forslund


Catherine Forslund

Dr. Catherine Forslund, professor of History, and dean of academic administration presented “John F. Kennedy 1917-2017” to the University Club’s Forbes University Discussion/Lecture Series on Thursday Feb, 9. She also shared “The Legacy of John F. Kennedy in the 100th Year of his Birth,” with the Rockford Downtown Rotary Club on March 30, including in both presentations remarks about JFK’s connections to Rockford with his two visits to the city.




President Eric Fulcomer


Eric Fulcomer

President Eric Fulcomer attended the U.S.-Mexico Higher Education Summit in Guadalajara, Mexico on March 29-31, joining a delegation of 24 presidents from independent colleges across the U.S. According to the organizers of the summit, the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) and the Mexican Federation of Private Higher Education Institutions (FIMPES), the purpose of the meetings is to explore partnership opportunities between Mexican and U.S. colleges and universities. The summit, “Reaffirming the North American Spirit of Collaboration in Higher Education: Creating Bridges for Communication” aimed to strengthen relationships for shared opportunities in research and development, exchanges with students and faculty, and crossborder internships.



Dr. Jules Gleicher


Jules Gleicher

Dr. Jules Gleicher, professor of Political Science, attended a lecture on genealogical research techniques, by Steven Flack, of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois, at Temple Beth-El, in Northbrook, Ill., on January 22.



Jeff Hendry


Jeff Hendry Rock Solid

For the second year in a row, Professor of Performing Arts Jeff Hendry has received the award for Best Costume Design from for his work on Mamma Mia! which ran Aug. 10–27, 2016. The show was a production of Maine State Music Theatre, a professional musical theater organization located on the Bowdoin College campus in Brunswick, Maine. Professor Hendry won the 2015 Best Costume Design award for Sister Act and The Music Man.



Giving made simple.


With a little preparation, planned gifts can be made now to immediately support Rockford University’s needs or they can take effect in the future as a way to leave your legacy.
Anyone can make a planned gift. Consider these three popular options:

A gift in your will or revocable living trust.

Work with your attorney to include a few simple sentences in your will or living trust. Plus, you can change your mind at any time because this gift doesn’t go into effect until after your lifetime.

A gift of your retirement plan assets.

By naming us as the primary beneficiary on the designation form for a percentage (1–100) of your account’s final value, you can make a tax-wise gift to support Rockford University.

A gift of your bank or brokerage account.*

By placing a payable on death or transfer on death designation on your bank or brokerage account, you can name our organization to receive the funds.

Leave a Lasting Legacy


Contact us today at 815.394.3756 or to learn more about the benefits of planned gifts.
*State laws govern payable on death accounts and transfer on death accounts. Please consult with your bank representative or investment advisor if you are considering these gifts.

Alumni Gallery

06/06/2017 9:37 am

Challenge Accepted

04/20/2017 1:03 pm

Thank you for your gift!

Your support means a lot to our campus.

Thank you for being READY on our Day of Giving!


Office of Development
Johnson Alumni Center
5050 E. State Street Rockford, IL 61108
fax 815-226-4081
Denise Noe, Assistant Vice President

Mon-Fri - 8:30 am to 5:00 pm

Give a Gift

2016 Reunion Photo Gallery

03/07/2017 5:20 pm

Day of Giving

11/28/2016 10:20 am

Thank You


Percent of 2017 Goal


Gifts from the RU Community


Percent of Total Givers



Over the last two years we learned that in one day we could engage alumni, parents, students and friends across the globe in rallying around Rockford University. We are ready to do it again.

Today’s the day! Join us for our third annual Day of Giving as we come together this year to support Rockford University’s participation in the Rubin Education Challenge. Every $ will be matched – doubling your impact. 

In December 2015, Rockford University and the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois (CFNIL) announced the University’s participation in the Rubin Education Challenge, a challenge grant offered by CFNIL to build scholarship endowments benefiting local students with financial need who attend local post-secondary institutions. The power of an endowed fund in addition to CFNIL’s automatic match of all gifts to this project make today an incredible day to be a Regent. Join us and become a part of a rock solid, dynamic solution for our students.​

 Alumni Matching Gift Challenge

Two Liners from Tom Muldowney ’74

Joining us today on our third annual Day of Giving is Immediate Past Board of Trustees Chair Tom Muldowney ’74. In the spirit of philanthropy and good fun, he has gifted us with a poetic musing.

On giving day, Eric pres has asked for help, in fact he really fidgets 
The day of giving’s underway,  he wants to reach 5 digits​

Get closer to your finals, to end the year’s a nice dream 
To make lighten up the load a bit, come over for some ice cream

It’s pretzel day, most curious, but do not get all twisted  
It’s also “ice cream’s free today,”  come here and get enlisted

Our day of giving helps us help, we think that you’d agree 
So we ask all our friends to help, call us and you’ll see

Come and get an ice cream cone, don’t be a wannabe 
Don’t miss the chance to make a gift, you’ll hear us cheer Whoopee!​

Some would say we set a bribe, incenting your donation
The folks you help will jump for joy in thanks and celebration

We’re really close to hurdle 1, the first one is 10 grand
You can help us pass that goal donate just as you planned

We need your help, so come to fore, no time to be demurring
You help us keep expenses low, for student’s it’s assuring

OK, the pres is really glad, you made the goal $10K
He says “let’s try for 20K ‘cause that’d make the day”​

Our thanks to Tom, his imagination, and his generous support to his beloved University. Thank you, Tom!




Office of Development
Johnson Alumni Center
5050 E. State Street Rockford, IL 61108
fax 815-226-4081
Denise Noe, Assistant Vice President

Mon-Fri - 8:30 am to 5:00 pm

Give a Gift

Reunion Gift

11/21/2016 12:31 pm

Give a Gift

11/21/2016 11:21 am

Give a Gift

07/26/2016 10:53 pm



How Your Gift Helps Rockford University

Every gift makes a difference to the students and faculty. Unrestricted gifts allows Rockford University to make that difference by directing those funds to the areas of greatest need. You may also designate your gift to support a department, program, scholarship fund, or other area of your choosing.

Your gifts to Rockford University allow us to:
• Award scholarships for deserving students.
• Fund service-learning programs throughout the community and into the world.
• Acquire state-of-the-art technology.
• Help students make meaningful connections between liberal learning and civic engagement.
• Provide faculty with funds to stay current with new methods of teaching and learning.

Your Gifts Bring Our Mission to Life

Our mission is to educate men and women to lead responsible lives by means of a curriculum grounded in liberal arts learning and complemented and extended by professional and practical experience. Through the total academic and co-curricular experience, Rockford University strives to prepare students for fulfilling lives, careers, and participation in a modern and changing global society.

A Rock Solid education starts here. 


From IRA to Z, We Have Everything You Need to Know

We are proud to be able to offer resources that can assist you in many ways. From understanding how changes to tax laws can impact your charitable rollovers to planning for legacy giving, the link below can help.

Please visit to learn more! 


Special Initiatives

The Charter Fund

The Charter Fund is the annual giving program for Rockford University. It pays tribute to the document by which the University was created and to the individuals and organizations that support us in maintaining it. It is a source of pride for us and unites current students, alumni, parents and friends in transforming Rockford University in the 21st century. A gift to the Charter Fund supports students today.



Rubin Education Challenge

rulogo-191x75 ‌    CFNILlogohorizontal--new-374x75

In December 2015, Rockford University and the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois (CFNIL) announced the University’s participation in the Rubin Education Challenge, a challenge grant offered by CFNIL to build scholarship endowments benefiting local students with financial need who attend local post-secondary institutions. Together, Rockford University and CFNIL will build a $3 million endowment, with CFNIL matching every dollar contributed by the University and its donors. The program is named after Dr. Louis and Violet Rubin whose $24.5 million gift to CFNIL made the matching endowments possible.

Each year, Rockford University awards more than $10 million in institutional aid, scholarship and grants, including $2 million awarded directly to students from the region. These funds are part of the University’s commitment to our students. The Rubin Education Challenge provides additional flexibility within our existing financial aid commitments, further enhancing our ability to enrich academic and co-curricular programs for all students. An increasingly robust scholarship base benefits students, current and future, while simultaneously elevating the profile of the institution and our community.

Your gift will be doubled through the Rubin Education Challenge, but contributions to the Rubin Education Challenge must be received by January 4, 2018.



Rock Solid and Ready: The Campaign for Rockford University

Rockford University delivers an education grounded in the liberal arts, providing students with the best possible foundation for a broad range of lives, careers, and meaningful citizenship; it’s been that way since 1847. Over the past several years, with strong core support, we have completed the hard work, demonstrated our enduring value, and are now taking strategic steps to strengthen our position. Looking ahead, we aspire to be a beacon for this region and beyond as an institution that is increasingly nimble, adaptive, and accessible.

Now we need you to believe in and invest in our future. Through participation in Rock Solid & Ready: The Campaign for Rockford University, you will help launch an era of progress. You will see just how much your leadership support will enhance our campus environment and the student experience.

We are rock solid and we are ready. To join us, please contact Denise Noe today.


Office of Development
Johnson Alumni Center
5050 E. State Street Rockford, IL 61108
fax 815-226-4081
Denise Noe, Assistant Vice President

Mon-Fri - 8:30 am to 5:00 pm

Give a Gift